26 Feb

Internet Crime

By Dave Daniels

CYBER CRIMES

INTRODUCTION:

With the day to day evolution of human mind , the modes of committing crime are also drastically changing . Criminals are getting smarter day by day and are applying there minds in this context to commit crime and escape without getting caught. With the advent of computers no one thought that it will become a mode or source of committing crime . Charles Babbage who is well known as the father of computer would not have dreamt that the machine he is giving the world may become a source of crime and would ever influence the society in a negative way.

Whenever we talk about cyber crime we can make out that its something related to a wrong done were a computer system is involved .

The term ‘cyber crime’ is a wrongly applied name. This term has nowhere been defined in any statute /Act passed or enacted by the Indian Parliament. The concept of cyber crime is not radically different from the concept of conventional crime. Both include conduct whether act or omission, which cause breach of rules of law and counterbalanced by the sanction of the state. Though cyber crimes is a new breed of crimes which came into being just after the advent of the computers and the scenario has become more worse with the influence of internet in our day to day life.

CONVENTIONAL CRIME-

Crime is a social and economic phenomenon and is as old as the human society. Crime is a legal concept and has the sanction of the law. Crime is defined as “a legal wrong that can be followed by criminal proceedings which may result into punishment.”. A crime may be said to be any conduct accompanied by act or omission prohibited by law and consequential breach of which is visited by penal consequences.

CYBER CRIME:

Cyber crime is the latest and perhaps the most complicated problem in the cyber world. “Cyber crime may be said to be those species, of which, genus is the conventional crime, and where either the computer is an object or subject of the conduct constituting crime. In general cyber crime may be defined as “ unlawful acts wherein the computer is either a tool or target or both”.

The computer may be used as a tool in the following kinds of activity- financial crimes, sale of illegal articles, pornography, online gambling, intellectual property crime, e-mail spoofing, forgery, cyber defamation, cyber stalking. The computer may however be a target for unlawful acts in the following cases- unauthorized access to computer/ computer system/ computer networks, theft of information contained in the ,electronic form,

e-mail bombing, salami attacks, logic bombs, Trojan attacks, internet time thefts, web jacking, theft of computer system, physically damaging the computer system.

DISTINCTION BETWEEN CONVENTIONAL AND CYBER CRIME-

There is apparently no distinction between cyber and conventional crime as both the crimes results into some sort of loss to one of the parties. However on a deep introspection we may say that there exists a fine line of demarcation between the conventional and cyber crime, which is appreciable. The demarcation lies in the involvement of the medium in cases of cyber crime.

MODE AND MANNER OF COMMITING CYBER CRIME:

1. HACKING:

This kind of offence is normally referred as hacking in the generic sense. However the framers of the information technology Act 2000 have no where used this term so to avoid any confusion we would not interchangeably use the word hacking for ‘unauthorized access’ as the latter has wide connotation.

2. THEFT OF INFORMATION CONTAINED IN ELECTRONIC FORM:

This includes information stored in computer hard disks, removable storage media etc. Theft may be either by appropriating the data physically or by tampering them through the virtual medium.

3. EMAIL BOMBARDING:

This kind of activity refers to sending large numbers of mail to the victim, which may be an individual or a company or even mail servers there by ultimately resulting into crashing of the entire system.

4. DATA DIDDLING:

This kind of an attack involves altering raw data just before a computer processes it and then changing it back after the processing is completed.

5. SALAMI ATTACKS:

This kind of crime is normally prevalent in the financial institutions or for the purpose of committing financial crimes. An important feature of this type of offence is that the alteration is so small that it would normally go unnoticed.

6. DENIAL OF SERVICE ATTACK:

The computer of the victim is flooded with more requests than it can handle which cause it to crash. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is also a type of denial of service attack, in which the offenders are wide in number and widespread.

7. VIRUS OR WORM ATTACKS:

Viruses are programs that attach themselves to a computer or a file and then circulate themselves to other files and to other computers on a network. They usually affect the data on a computer, either by altering or deleting it. Worms, unlike viruses do not need the host to attach themselves to. They merely make functional copies of themselves and do this repeatedly till they eat up all the available space on a computer’s memory. E.g. love bug virus, which affected at least 5 % of the computers of the globe. The losses were accounted to be $ 10 million. The world’s most famous worm was the Internet worm let loose on the Internet by Robert Morris sometime in 1988. Almost brought development of Internet to a complete halt.

8. LOGIC BOMBS:

These are event dependent programs. This implies that these programs are created to do something only when a certain event (known as a trigger event) occurs. E.g. even some viruses may be termed logic bombs because they lie dormant all through the year and become active only on a particular date (like the Chernobyl virus).

9. TROJAN ATTACKS:

This term has its origin in the word ‘Trojan horse’. In software field this means an unauthorized programme, which passively gains control over another’s system by representing itself as an authorised programme. The most common form of installing a Trojan is through e-mail. E.g. a Trojan was installed in the computer of a lady film director in the U.S. while chatting. The cyber criminal through the web cam installed in the computer obtained her nude photographs. He further harassed this lady.

10. INTERNET TIME THEFT:

Normally in these kinds of thefts the Internet surfing hours of the victim are used up by another person. This is done by gaining access to the login ID and the password. E.g. Colonel Bajwa’s case- the Internet hours were used up by any other person. This was perhaps one of the first reported cases related to cyber crime in India. However this case made the police infamous as to their lack of understanding of the nature of cyber crime.

11. WEB JACKING:

This term is derived from the term hi jacking. In these kinds of offences the hacker gains access and control over the web site of another. He may even mutilate or change the information on the site. This may be done for fulfilling political objectives or for money. E.g. recently the site of MIT (Ministry of Information Technology) was hacked by the Pakistani hackers and some obscene matter was placed therein. Further the site of Bombay crime branch was also web jacked. Another case of web jacking is that of the ‘gold fish’ case. In this case the site was hacked and the information pertaining to gold fish was changed. Further a ransom of US $ 1 million was demanded as ransom. Thus web jacking is a process where by control over the site of another is made backed by some consideration for it.

CLASSIFICATION OF CYBER CRIMES:

The subject of cyber crime may be broadly classified under the following three groups. They are-

1. Against Individuals :

a. against person
b. their property of an individual

2. Against Organization :

a. Government
c. Firm, Company, Group of Individuals.

3. Against Society at large

Against Individuals: –

They can be:
i. Harassment via e-mails.
ii. Cyber-stalking.
iii. Dissemination of obscene material.
iv. Defamation.
v. Unauthorized control/access over computer system.
vi. Fraud and cheating

Against Individual Property: –

i. Computer vandalism.
ii. Transmitting virus.
iii. Netrespass
iv. Unauthorized control/access over computer system.
v. Intellectual Property crimes
vi. Internet time thefts

Against Organization: –

i. Unauthorized control/access over computer system
ii. Possession of unauthorized information.
iii. Cyber terrorism against the government organization.
iv. Distribution of pirated software etc.

Against Society at large: –

i. Pornography (basically child pornography).
ii. Polluting the youth through indecent exposure.
iii. Trafficking
iv. Financial crimes
v. Sale of illegal articles
vi. Online gambling
vii. Forgery

Some of the above mentioned offences may discussed in brief as follows:

1. Harassment via e-mails-

Harassment through e-mails is not a new concept. It is very similar to harassing through letters.

2. Cyber-stalking-

The Oxford dictionary defines stalking as “pursuing stealthily”. Cyber stalking involves following a person’s movements across the Internet by posting messages (sometimes threatening) on the bulletin boards frequented by the victim, entering the chat-rooms frequented by the victim, constantly bombarding the victim with emails etc.

3. Dissemination of obscene material-

Pornography on the net may take various forms. It may include the hosting of web site containing these prohibited materials. Use of computers for producing these obscene materials. Downloading through the Internet, obscene materials. These obscene matters may cause harm to the mind of the adolescent and tend to deprave or corrupt their mind. Two known cases of pornography are the Delhi Bal Bharati case and the Bombay case wherein two Swiss couple used to force the slum children for obscene photographs. The Mumbai police later arrested them.

4. Defamation

It is an act of imputing any person with intent to lower the person in the estimation of the right-thinking members of society generally or to cause him to be shunned or avoided or to expose him to hatred, contempt or ridicule. Cyber defamation is not different from conventional defamation except the involvement of a virtual medium. E.g. the mail account of Rohit was hacked and some mails were sent from his account to some of his batch mates regarding his affair with a girl with intent to defame him.

5. Unauthorized control/access over computer system-

This activity is commonly referred to as hacking. The Indian law has however given a different connotation to the term hacking, so we will not use the term “unauthorized access” interchangeably with the term “hacking” to prevent confusion as the term used in the Act of 2000 is much wider than hacking.

6. Computer vandalism-

Vandalism means deliberately destroying or damaging property of another. Thus computer vandalism may include within its purview any kind of physical harm done to the computer of any person. These acts may take the form of the theft of a computer, some part of a computer or a peripheral attached to the computer or by physically damaging a computer or its peripherals.

8. Intellectual Property crimes / Distribution of pirated software-

Intellectual property consists of a bundle of rights. Any unlawful act by which the owner is deprived completely or partially of his rights is an offence. The common form of IPR violation may be said to be software piracy, copyright infringement, trademark and service mark violation, theft of computer source code, etc.

9. Cyber terrorism against the government organization

At this juncture a necessity may be felt that what is the need to distinguish between cyber terrorism and cyber crime. Both are criminal acts. However there is a compelling need to distinguish between both these crimes. A cyber crime is generally a domestic issue, which may have international consequences, however cyber terrorism is a global concern, which has domestic as well as international consequences.

The common form of these terrorist attacks on the Internet is by distributed denial of service attacks, hate websites and hate emails, attacks on sensitive computer networks, etc. Cyber terrorism may be defined to be “ the premeditated use of disruptive activities, or the threat thereof, in cyber space, with the intention to further social, ideological, religious, political or similar objectives, or to intimidate any person in furtherance of such objectives”

Another definition may be attempted to cover within its ambit every act of cyber terrorism.

A terrorist means a person who indulges in wanton killing of persons or in violence or in disruption of services or means of communications essential to the community or in damaging property with the view to –

(1) putting the public or any section of the public in fear; or

(2) affecting adversely the harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities; or

(3) coercing or overawing the government established by law; or

(4) endangering the sovereignty and integrity of the nation

and a cyber terrorist is the person who uses the computer system as a means or ends to achieve the above objectives. Every act done in pursuance thereof is an act of cyber terrorism.

10. Trafficking

Trafficking may assume different forms. It may be trafficking in drugs, human beings, arms weapons etc. These forms of trafficking are going unchecked because they are carried on under pseudonyms. A racket was busted in Chennai where drugs were being sold under the pseudonym of honey.

11. Fraud & Cheating

Online fraud and cheating is one of the most lucrative businesses that are growing today in the cyber space. It may assume different forms. Some of the cases of online fraud and cheating that have come to light are those pertaining to credit card crimes, contractual crimes, offering jobs, etc.

STATUTORY PROVISIONS:

The Indian parliament considered it necessary to give effect to the resolution by which the General Assembly adopted Model Law on Electronic Commerce adopted by the United Nations Commission on Trade Law. As a consequence of which the Information Technology Act 2000 was passed and enforced on 17th May 2000.the preamble of this Act states its objective to legalise e-commerce and further amend the Indian Penal Code 1860, the Indian Evidence Act 1872, the Banker’s Book Evidence Act1891 and the Reserve Bank of India Act 1934. The basic purpose to incorporate the changes in these Acts is to make them compatible with the Act of 2000. So that they may regulate and control the affairs of the cyber world in an effective manner.

CONCLUSION:

Capacity of human mind is unfathomable. It is not possible to eliminate cyber crime from the cyber space. It is quite possible to check them. History is the witness that no legislation has succeeded in totally eliminating crime from the globe. The only possible step is to make people aware of their rights and duties (to report crime as a collective duty towards the society) and further making the application of the laws more stringent to check crime. Undoubtedly the Act is a historical step in the cyber world. Further I all together do not deny that there is a need to bring changes in the Information Technology Act to make it more effective to combat cyber crime. I would conclude with a word of caution for the pro-legislation school that it should be kept in mind that the provisions of the cyber law are not made so stringent that it may retard the growth of the industry and prove to be counter-productive.

Sidhartha Roy

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